Low relishing 2012 challenge
Germany coach Joachim Low has said that he could not walk away from the challenge of transforming his young side from FIFA World Cup™ semi-finalists to European champions.
The 50-year-old today ended speculation over his future by announcing he has extended his contract until after UEFA EURO 2012. Low's previous deal expired after the World Cup, but the team's impressive display in South Africa - where they reached the last four before losing to eventual winners Spain - led to a public clamour for it to be extended.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff, Low's assistant Hans-Dieter Flick and goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke have also agreed two-year extensions to their contracts, meaning the quartet will remain in their posts until after the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. Low said: "We are all pleased that we can continue our work with the national team.
"Our team has excellent sporting prospects and it is a big challenge for us to be able to get stuck into the preparations for EURO 2012 after the successful World Cup in South Africa. Thanks to the excellent work the Bundesliga clubs do with young players and to the youth teams of the DFB, we are convinced that the national team can further enhance their international standing through modern and attractive football.''
The Germans won widespread praise for their counter-attacking football in South Africa, sweeping aside England 4-1 in the last 16 and Argentina 4-0 in the quarter-finals. Their young stars were among the most impressive players at the tournament, with Werder Bremen's Mesut Ozil and Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller - who landed the adidas Golden Boot and Hyundai Best Young Player award - in particular catching the eye.
Low added: "In order to be able to achieve our main goals in the near future, we need the continued hard and consistent work from everyone. Therefore, continuing to work closely with sporting director Matthias Sammer is very important to me.''
Contract talks were earlier this year put on ice until after the FIFA World Cup following a row between Low and the German Football Association (DFB). And DFB president Dr Theo Zwanziger was delighted to have finally got the issue sorted. "I am pleased for German football that we have managed to successfully solve the most important personnel decisions regarding the nation team so quickly and in such a friendly manner," he said.
Bierhoff has handed over responsibility for looking after the administration of the Germany U-21 team to Sammer. The former striker said: "Working together in a team as part of the national side has provided a huge amount of pleasure in the past years. Together we have made important progress, achieved considerable success and done a lot for the image of German football. Everyone has forgotten the arguments of the past months, we will head unencumbered into the next phase of working together."
Germany captain Michael Ballack, who missed the World Cup through injury, added: "I am pleased that the whole team is continuing. Together they have done excellent work. The team trusts Joachim Low."
Germany's next game is against Denmark in Copenhagen on 11 August.